In the Bronx, Complaints About Jerome Ave. Rezoning

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (far back) presides at hearing on the Jerome Avenue rezoning plan.
(Photo by David Cruz via Norwood News)

The rezoning debate has come to the Bronx.

On Nov. 2, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. held hearings on plans to rezone the Jerome Avenue corridor, with residents from the neighborhoods of Fordham South, University Heights, Morris Heights, Mt. Eden and Highbridge in attendance.

The Department of City Planning said that the plan will create more than 4,000 units of affordable housing. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development intends to offer tax breaks to developers who build housing for those making a maximum income of $26,720 for a single person, translating to 40 percent of Area Median Income.

As has been the case in East Harlem, Inwood and elsewhere in the city, there were loud complaints about just how affordable the new affordable housing would be in the area scheduled for rezoning, which straddles three community board districts. David Cruz of Norwood News reports on what some residents had to say.

“Every time I walk around and see billboards that say ‘affordable housing,’ I just stare at it and laugh and say ‘for whom?’” Ed Viera Jr., a resident living within the impacted area, said.

During cross-examination of the plan, Diaz had wondered whether HPD would consider lowering the AMI threshold to 30 percent.

Three people who testified spoke of the racial undertone the Jerome Avenue rezoning represents, with Jessica Roque suggesting this is a new form of “colonialism” toward the existing black and Hispanic population living there.

“The settlers here are the people right here on my left,” Roque, a Hispanic woman motioning to the largely white group of city officials tasked to formulate the plan, said. “And the natives is us here.”

One resident went so far as to call the plan a form of “ethnic cleansing.” For more on the residents’ concerns and complaints, as well as to learn the views of City Council member Vanessa Gibson, whose 16th district covers much of the area slated for rezoning, go to Norwood News.

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